Thursday, May 18, 2017

New plants could improve food supply

More than 1,700 new plants have been discovered in the past year, including species that could help provide food in the future, says a report from England.

Among 1,730 new species are five new types of manihot, from Brazil, wild relatives of cassava, which could help develop varieties of the third-most important food crop in the tropics that are resilient to drier conditions and disease.

The second annual State of the World’s Plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, also revealed nine new species of climbing vine Mucuna, used in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, have been found.

Plant breeders can tap into the genes in these discovered plants to move them through natural breeding programs into high-yielding cropping varieties.

That has, for example, how Canadian wheat breeders have introduced disease resistance by crossing with grass ancestors of wheat.